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October 20, 2017

The Campus Ledger, the student newspaper of JCCC, switches its focus to digital-only to improve multimedia collaboration and reflect the new reality of journalism.

Student journalists who work on the Campus Ledger, the student newspaper of Johnson County Community College, are learning how to be a digital-only news source. They’re learning what it’s like to be a paper with no paper.

When the presses stopped in May, the change ended a nearly 40-year run where printed papers were placed in boxes around campus. It also began a new way to tell stories at JCCC by using 21st century technology.

One focus, more collaboration

Nell Gross, Campus Ledger editor-in-chief, said her goal is to try to post content daily on the Ledger website.

“I think when we were trying to do print and our multimedia stuff, we were always focusing on print, and multimedia kind of got lost. Everything else was put on the back burner. We would just run out of time,” she said.

Now, with the digital-only focus, there’s more time to work with Student News Center partners JCAV, the video/broadcast journalism station, and ECAV, the online radio station.

“We’re trying to cross-train so we all learn multimedia skills,” Gross said.

Real-world preparation

That’s what professional news-gathering outlets are seeking, she said. “I see even more that video skills are what they’re looking for now. Just because you can write and report doesn’t mean you’re going to stand out anymore, because everybody gets so much stuff online; everybody wants multimedia.”

Corbin Crable, Journalism coordinator and Ledger advisor, agreed. “Journalists need to be generalists … That’s challenging for a Kansas City Star reporter, let alone a college student. To see them take up that mantle is really inspiring,” he said. “This is where the industry is now, and we must embrace the needs of our audience.”

Leveraging social media

Crable said he believed JCCC was the first college-level student newspaper in Kansas to embrace the digital-only format. Being the first means there isn’t much precedent to learn how to get the community to your website.

“Social media is going to be huge in pushing our name forward,” he said. Using Campus Ledger accounts on [Campus Ledger] Facebook, [Campus Ledger] Twitter and [JCAV TV] YouTube, News Center employees regularly post fresh content when available.

Per-page views

Recent content on the site includes the Friday Feature, a weekly post where a reporter profiles a JCCC student. A story on Jack Guzan, who set up a sign offering free hugs in Fountain Square, shared just how many hugs he handed out in two hours. 

As for counting the number of views that the Ledger (or any page on the site) gets, Gross said she’s not too worried. They’ll be counting them in these early stages, but not focusing on numbers.

Gross, a 2016 Shawnee Mission North graduate, worked on the school’s yearbook and newspaper before joining the Ledger. She has plans to transfer to a four-year school and major in journalism.

“I think I’m a little too far into it now to get out,” she said, smiling.

For more information

If you’d like to read the Ledger, set a bookmark to, and if you’d like more info on other student activities at JCCC, connect with the Center for Student Involvement.